The 2014 Illinois Basketball Christmas Wish List:
1) Develop some semblance of an offense. What started out as a high-octane attack early in the season has become stagnant. This dribble-drive offense seems to bring a lot of 1-on-1 moves making some of the even late Weber squads look like the Globetrotters in terms of ball movement.
2) Develop a defensive identity. At the game Saturday, people around me were commenting about how soft the defense was. They were right. In a way, it resembled the football team trying to stop Melvin Gordon.
3) For the love of God, stop doubling the point guard with Nnanna Egwu 35 feet from the basket. He is truly the only defensive low post presence.
4) Let Em play. Let the Simeon guys play. At least 30 mins per game. I feel Cosby and Starks can be more effective off the bench and play in spurts. If Cosby can play a "Rich McBride" role from the 2005 team and Starks a "Chester Frazier" role from the 2006 team, they can become more effective.
5) Force feed Maverick Morgan and Austin Colbert at every meal. The lack of an "enforcer" has hurt the Illini since Shaun Pruitt left. Maybe Sam McLaurin was to an extent in 2013, but there is no fear for any opponent when driving into the lane. Remember Brian Cook, Marcus Griffin, Robert Archibald, and Damir Krupalijia on the same team for a couple years?
6) Rest Rayvonte as much as possible the next three games. He is going to be needed 35 minutes a night in conference.
7) Somehow convince Marcus Lovett that Champaign is a fine place to be a PG.
8) Never lose in Chicago again. It used to be whomever came to play at the UC in December was going to be leaving with an "L." Not so much anymore. It just makes it that much harder to recruit the area and gives the tough guys with a microphone from the SCORE another reason to bash the program.
9) Set goals. Weber had his "corny" map of the 2005 regionals for the team to strive for as all locales were a bus ride away from Champaign and it worked. Re-emphasizing Wish #8, keep track that the UC, the alleged "home away from home", is hosting the Midwest Regional in 2016.
10) Guard the basket underneath the hoop on out-of-bounds-plays. Opponents are often getting easy, uncontested layups. Does anybody else notice this?
11) Master breaking the half- court trap. Villanova started it, Oregon did it. I pretty much think this could be a trend going forward if Starks is going to bring the ball up as he is having trouble finding the open man.
12) Finish. The last ten minutes of the losses have been brutal. The team looks "tight" especially compared to the team at the end of last year. Have some fun and remember in March, nobody cares who you lost to in December.